We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is the Pudendal Nerve?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Jan 30, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The pudendal nerve begins in the lower back, which is called the sacral area and as it moves downward, it splits into three separate sections or branches. Each branch helps provide important sensation and function. One branch affects the anus, another affects the genitals and most sensations involved in sexual pleasure, and the third branch supplies sensation to the perineum or the area located between vaginal opening or testes and anal opening.

Some may be familiar with the pudendal nerve because in childbirth one pain management option is a nerve block, which creates numbing or loss of sensation in the genital area and other regions. Some obstetricians and anesthesiologists may prefer this to an epidural block depending on circumstances. By far the epidural is more common than a pudendal block, but there are certainly indications for pudendal blocks in some labor and delivery scenarios.

Principally, most people do not want this nerve’s sensation dulled in any way because of the areas on which it has an affect. In large part, things like orgasm are directly tied to the function of the pudendal nerve, and some people with a damaged nerve could also have bowel movement difficulty, develop constipation, or have issues with the way the bladder functions. However, in some cases, a pudendal block may be a desirable pain management strategy, if it addresses serious and significant pain in the genital region. Such blocks aren’t just for childbirth, and might be used to diagnose pudendal nerve damage that results in pain.

In some cases, childbirth or other injuries may directly affect the nerve. This is often short-term damage, and the main symptom could be loss of sensation. This degree of sensation loss varies, but it could impact sexual and bowel movement function. Alternately, damage to the nerve, or any scenario that compresses the nerve, could result in pain and discomfort in different parts of the pelvis. This may be known as nerve entrapment and could result in the very painful pudendal neuropathy.

Pudendal neuropathy is viewed as a challenging condition to treat, and diagnosis isn’t always immediate unless clear cause of injury is present. The principal symptoms of this condition are pain in one or more of the genital areas that the nerve innervates. One useful diagnostic after ruling out possible compression causes from things like cysts or tumors is a pudendal block because complete stoppage of pain would indicate involvement of the nerve. Once diagnosis is reached, people have several treatment options, but total cure is only achieved in approximately half the cases, and many people must resort to multiple pain management strategies to control the condition. It is fortunate the condition is rare and many people who have slight damage to the pudendal nerve (as from childbirth) recover fully and never move on to develop neuropathy.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.